Skip to main content


Abyei, disputed region, c.4,000 sq mi (10,400 sq km), on the border of Sudan and South Sudan. Claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, the area was given special administative status under the 2004 peace agreement that led to southern independence; Sudan has de facto control of Abyei. The inhabitants of the area include a Dinka group with ties to South Sudanese ethnic groups, and the nomadic Misseriya, an Arab group with ties to Sudan, who graze cattle there part of the year. Abyei also is a significant oil-producing area.

A referendum on whether Abyei would join Sudan or South Sudan was scheduled for Jan., 2011, but never took place. Skirmishes between the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Sudanese army followed, and the area was seized by Sudan shortly before South Sudan declared independence in July, 2011. A UN peacekeeping force was sent to the area as violence broke out and more than 100,000 people were displaced. Sudan withdrew some of its forces in May, 2012. Internationally mediated negotiations toward a resolution of Abyei's status have continued, but little progress has been made.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Abyei." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 23 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Abyei." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (January 23, 2019).

"Abyei." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.